Church of the Holy Name (Catholic)

58 Sealy Street, Allenton, ASHBURTON

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The Church of the Holy Name was the third Catholic church to be built in Ashburton, some sixty years after the first Catholic mass was celebrated in 1871. In 1876 the first Catholic church in the town, a simple wooden building, was opened in Burnett Street. A Catholic school was established in 1880 and the first resident priest, Father Edmund Patrick Coffey arrived the following year. A second church was designed in 1882 by Francis Petre, (1847-1918), the well-known church architect. Petre's grand design proved too expensive for the parish and only the nave was ever built. It was decided, instead, to build a completely new church, and by 1930 sufficient money had been raised for this purpose. The architect chosen to design the third church was Henry St Aubyn Murray (1886-1943). Murray, whose practice was based in Christchurch, designed numerous buildings for the Catholic Church in Canterbury, and the church he designed for Ashburton is one of his most well-known. The Church of the Holy Name is rectangular in plan, with a square belltower adjacent to the main entrance. It is Romanesque in style, incorporating relatively small openings (as compared to the mass of the walls), with round-headed arches. A revival of the Romanesque, or 'round-arched', style occurred in Britain from the 1840s and in the former British colonies. The use of this style by Murray in the 1930s indicates his awareness of churches of similar design overseas. In Australia, for example, architects such as John Cyril Hawes and Joseph Fowell used the Romanesque style. An early example of a church built in the Romanesque style in New Zealand is First Church in Invercargill (1910-1915), designed by J.T. Mair. The Church of the Holy Name varies slightly from such examples in so far as it has a group of three round-headed windows above the western entrance rather than a rose window. The Romanesque style was often used by Catholic churches to distinguish themselves architecturally from the Anglican Church which built many churches in the Gothic style. The Catholic community's church in Ashburton, as designed by Murray, makes a positive and distinctive statement of their presence in the town. The church is an important part of the Catholic complex of buildings, which now include school and presbytery, all built within the same area. It was, at the time it was built, the most expensive building in Ashburton and it remains a distinctive landmark, still used today for Catholic worship.

Church of the Holy Name (Catholic), Ashburton | Melanie Lovell-Smith | 01/12/2001 | Heritage New Zealand
Church of the Holy Name (Catholic), Ashburton | Melanie Lovell-Smith | 01/12/2001 | Heritage New Zealand



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

9th September 1985

Date of Effect

9th September 1985

City/District Council

Ashburton District


Canterbury Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent of registration includes part of Lot 2 DP 386200 (RT 344997), Canterbury Land District and the building known as Church of the Holy Name (Catholic), thereon.

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 386200 (RT 344997), Canterbury Land District

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